• July 14th, 2020

More investment required for digital revolution - Simataa

WINDHOEK - The  I n t e r n a t i o n a l Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations specialised agency for information and communication technologies (ICTs), estimates that at the end
of 2018, more than 51 percent of the global population, or close to four billion people, will be using
the internet. While this confirms that the world is moving towards building a more inclusive global
information society, far too many people around the world, mainly in Africa, are still waiting to reap
the benefits of the digital economy.

“These figures show that despite various challenges, the ICT sector continues to grow. Telecommunications have ceased to be a luxury and is now a basic need and necessary tool of
communication in the 21st Century. In fact, ICT play a vital role as catalyst for sustainable economic
development and growth,” said Stanley Simataa, Minister of Information and Communication
Technology, at Wednesday’s opening of the Southern Africa Telecommunications Association
(Sata) Service and Network Operations Southern Africa (Snosa) regional conference. Simataa’s speech was delivered on his behalf by Linda Aipinge, Director of ICT, in the ministry while the conference
was hosted by Telecom Namibia.

The three-day conference, which concludes in Windhoek today, was comprised of local stakeholders, focused on service and network operations in the telecommunications sector as well as their counterparts from the southern African region. The conference comes at a time when the telecommunications industry
is expanding its reach, and when the focus on customer experience is brought to the fore.

“A significant portion of the continent’s population uses ICT for social and business engagements.
Furthermore, the ICT sector employs an enormous number of people while contributing greatly to
the revenue streams of most nations.

More investment is required from the public and private sectors to create a conducive environment to
attract investments, and support technology and business innovation so that the digital revolution leaves
no one offline,” said Simataa.

The minister noted that alongside a multitude of local, national, and regional trends, the overarching
global trend in mobile markets is toward broadband connectivity at steadily increasing speeds and of
higher quality.

“At the same time, network quality is increasingly a point of differentiation between operators
as the quality of the mobile broadband experience becomes more important to consumers. Your
deliberations this week is bound to come up with long-term solutions for all Sata members,” Simataa
stated. He continued that, based on Namibia’s experience, ICT serves as the primary enabler for economic
development and growth.

According to Simataa, ICT has a huge and positive impact on economic growth as it has the potential to make supply chains more efficient, ensure faster transactions, while allowing for dynamic business processes. “ICT can accelerate the flow of goods and services across Sadc national borders, underpinned
by effective competition. ICT stimulates and improves trade by connecting people and places
previously not connected,” said Simataa. Following agreements between the various countries in
the region, a number of African member states are now connected to the West African Cable System
(Wacs), which provides connectivity to the rest of the world. Wacs facilitates the roll out of optical
fibre broadband networks requiring huge investments, but through collaboration connected African
countries share the cost.

Conference participants are entrusted with the Service and Network Operations of their respective mobile operators, thereby managing the performance of their networks. These participants are tasked with the huge responsibility of ensuring services interruptions, mal functions and abrupt disconnections are flagged, reported and attended to.

“The networks you oversee are complex and ensure connectivity of the various towns in your countries,
while linking your systems to neighbouring countries, allowing travellers to have uninterrupted
services whenever they cross the borders of their countries of residence. The provision and 
maintenance of these systems and networks would enable you to promptly and efficiently address the
ever-evolving telecommunication needs of your customers,” Simataa told the delegates.

The minister noted that Namibia has invested greatly in telecommunications infrastructure and continues to upgrade and install new infrastructure where required to ensure the delivery of fixed and mobile services. This, he added, is also happening in other nations on the continent, and more specifically the Sadc region. “Investment in the telecommunications infrastructure opens opportunities for trade within the country and beyond the borders of our respective countries.

To communicate in real time with the developed world, we require similar infrastructure, products and
services in our countries,” Simataa continued. However, Simataa emphasised that during the development of the respective economies, participants must not forget the new challenges brought about by advancements in ICTs.

“Cyber-criminals are getting more sophisticated and pose a threat to public and private enterprises,
as well as individuals. Steps must be taken to improve our capacity in dealing with cyber-threats and
cyber criminals or else they could cause irreparable damage to our economies and countries. We need
to step up our capacity building to ensure that governments and law enforcement officials remain
ahead of existing cyber threats while anticipating new threats,” Simataa cautioned.

This week’s conference addressed key topics, including evaluation strategies and assessment of key
lessons from other ICT operators.

Edgar Brandt
2019-09-06 08:52:19 | 10 months ago

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